Chile Ex-President Sebastian Pinera Dies In Helicopter Crash

Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire tycoon who twice served as Chile’s president, died in a helicopter crash on Tuesday, his office said in a statement.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the death of the former president of the Republic of Chile,” the statement read, adding that the 74-year-old Pinera died in the popular vacation location Lago Ranco, about 920 kilometers (570 miles) south of Santiago.

Carolina Toha, Chile’s interior minister, confirmed the former president’s death. There were no further facts revealed about the reason of the collision.

SENAPRAD, Chile’s national disaster agency, announced that one person had been killed and three others injured. The government did not immediately identify who was aboard.

Pinera, a skilled businessman, managed rapid economic development and a considerable drop in unemployment during his first president from 2010 to 2014, when many of Chile’s trade partners and neighbors were experiencing significantly slower growth.

His second term as president, from 2018 to 2022, was marked by violent protests against inequality that resulted in claims of human rights breaches and ended with the government vowing to design a new constitution.

Pinera was the owner of Chile’s sixth largest wealth, estimated at $3 billion. He spent nearly 20 years as an academic at different universities, as well as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.

He was a businessman from the 1970s until the 1990s, working in a range of businesses, including real estate. He owned stock in major airlines, telecommunications, real estate, and electrical companies. He also established one of the largest credit card companies in the country. In 2009, he gave over control of his company to others.

He entered politics as a representative of the center right, which provided civilian backing for the military dictatorship. At the same time, he distanced himself from General Augusto Pinochet’s administration from 1973 to 1990, during which over 3,000 accused communists were slain or “disappeared.”

Pinera ran three times for president of Chile. In 2006, he lost to leftist Michelle Bachelet, and in 2010, he defeated former President Eduardo Frei. Four years later, in 2018, he defeated a socialist independent to win a second four-year term.

Twelve days before the start of his first term, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami killed 525 people and destroyed central-southern Chile’s infrastructure.

Pinera’s government agenda was postponed in order to focus on emergency reconstruction. In 2010, he also oversaw an unprecedented rescue of 33 miners who had been stranded for 69 days at the depths of a mine in the Atacama desert, which drew international attention.

The event became a global media sensation and was the subject of a 2014 film titled The 33.

He ended his term after creating an estimated one million jobs.

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